After the withdrawal of Dutch colonial administration in 1962, temporary control of the land inhabited by the indigenous populations of Western New Guinea was taken over by the UN and then passed to the nation of Indonesia in 1963. At the time a referendum was scheduled for 1969 in which the people of West Papua would vote to determine their sovereignty. This referendum did not proceed as planned. According to wikipedia “the vote was a show of hands in the presence of the Indonesian military, and only involved 1025 hand picked people who were forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Indonesia, much less than 1% of those who should have been eligible to vote.” The result was an absorption of Papua into Indonesia.
For the past 48 years, the people of West Papua have rebelled for their freedom in a variety of ways. Each rebellion or protest met by violence and suppression of dissent by the Indonesian government. “Over 500,000 Papuans have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since 1969 and the Indonesian governance style has been compared to that of a police state,suppressing freedom of political association and political expression.” Thus far foreign attempts to enter West Papua and assess the likely humanitarian crisis have been denied by the Indonesian government.
The Republic of West Papua (thus far an unrecognised former state) has gained public support for their return to independence from neighboring Pacific Island nations Vanuatu and The Solomon Islands. Similarly, Polynesians across the Pacific have spoken up individually in support of West Papua.
Interesting fact – West Papua is home to the Grasberg Mine. The world’s LARGEST gold mine. The Indonesian government just happens to own a 9% stake in the mine…
Click here or the title of this section for articles related to the situation in West Papua.
Imagine the local government not recognizing your claim of heritage to the land. That the local government refuses to recognize your ethnicity as one of the eight “national races. Of being denied citizenship, freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs. Of living in a situation on par with apartheid.
Try to imagine the horror of the government not only refusing to accept the legitimacy of your heritage, but actively committing genocide against your people through use of the military. Imagine fleeing this violence with half of your population. Of witnessing the most vile acts performed against humans before ultimately losing your father, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, and your children as you desperately run to survive.
Imagine experiencing the worst of humanity and after somehow escaping to the border, being refused refugee access into neighboring countries and instead being turned back to the hell you just came from.
Imagine being part of a world that is turning a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis.
Could you imagine?
We’ve seen the damage caused by Maria on the news. We’ve seen our government’s laughable response to help the American citizens living on the island. The story of the indifference the US government has given Puerto Rico goes back much farther than October.